Who’s the worst post-war US president? Obama, Americans tell pollsters

Poll of Americans also puts George W. Bush among least popular post-war US leaders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 9:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 9:56pm


President Barack Obama, who is enduring a tough second term, tops a list of the worst US leaders since the second world war, according to a poll of Americans.

The survey results, unveiled by the polling institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, said that 33 per cent of those asked saw Obama as the worst leader in the last 70 years. About 28 per cent picked his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Quinnipiac said that 35 per cent saw Ronald Reagan, president from 1981 to 1989, as the best US leader since 1945, with 18 per cent choosing Bill Clinton and 15 per cent going for the assassinated John F. Kennedy.

"Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of polling for Quinnipiac.

Forty-five per cent of those polled said that America would have been better off had Republican Mitt Romney won the 2012 election, while 38 per cent said the country would be worse off.

Presidents typically take the most heat while they are in office, and many find that their spells in the White House are reevaluated when they have retired and are out of Washington's bitter partisan crossfire.

Bush, who was deeply unpopular at the end of his second term, has seen his ratings edge up in recent years. Others like Clinton were popular on their last day in office and have seen their public opinion ratings remain strong.

The poll appeared to show a bias towards more recent presidents. Only 13 per cent said Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace, was seen as the worst president. Jimmy Carter, whose 1981-85 presidency is often pilloried, was seen as the worst president by only 8 per cent.

The Quinnipiac poll was consistent with other recent surveys, showing Obama's job approval ratings touching near historic lows of around 40 per cent.

A string of political controversies and foreign policy crises have sullied Obama's reputation.